2000+ Properties Photographed: Reaching A Career Milestone
By TJ Romero, Virtuance HDReal® Photographer
When studying industrial design in San Francisco, I fell in love with all things crafted by hand. Something that always stuck with me was the way Frank Lloyd Wright masked the latest technology with elements of nature. The mid-century Case Study Houses took this design idea and pushed the boundaries of architecture. I knew this genre of photography was right for me after viewing the documentary “Visual Acoustics” which illustrated how architectural photographer Julius Schulman approached his work.
When the opportunity came to join Virtuance as a photographer, I jumped in head-first and have never been happier doing what I do.
I’m energized by the opportunity to tell compelling stories of how humans interact with architecture. At Virtuance, I’m part of a team of people who’re passionate about their craft. We play off of each other, similar to the way a jazz trio works when they improvise off of each other. I play my part as the photographer, the architect plays the second, and the homeowner/interior designer completes the line-up. We all trust each other to tell the story in a way that captures the imagination of the audience. Our team has people who love the final step of fine-tuning all of our images, and a team of people who care deeply about the success of our clients. Everyone has a role to play and we all contribute to something bigger than ourselves.
Most of the time, the person I meet at my first property of the day is the first person I’ve talked to all day, and I’m often the first person they’ve talked to. For me, reading body language is a huge part of being successful when working with so many different personalities. I tend to read cues from the person onsite to gauge how involved they want to be in the process. If they seem to be in an urgent state of mind, I typically cut the small talk and get straight to work. If they seem anxious, excited, or worried, I take my time to understand their concerns and ideas. Much of the time, after the initial introduction, properties unfold themselves to me as I quietly photograph the space. During the shorter days of the year, I typically photograph six properties a day, and ten properties on the longer days of summer.
Some properties are still occupied by owners. These I approach with extra compassion and understanding. I’ve figured out a workflow to balance my time helping while still being able to photograph the property efficiently. A lot of the time, the mess looks worse than it is, and teamwork with the people onsite usually yields the results that everyone desires.
When a property is dialed-in and ready for photos, it allows me to focus 100% on my craft. It offers a feeling of freedom, almost out-of-body and zen-like. I get into a rhythm and find angles that showcase the intent of the architect and the interior designer. When I have a day of properties that aren’t ready for photos, I have to rush to do my best to prep and shoot quickly to stay on schedule. The technical side of our photography is second nature, so nothing is sacrificed in the delivery of my photos, but it’s always preferable to have time to imagine the results before shooting.
I fill my days doing what I love, photographing architecture. It surprised even me, that I am the first photographer with Virtuance to accomplish this milestone surpassing 2000 properties photographed. It took me about two and a half years to get here. Our team is full of passionate photographers who’re on pace to outshoot me.
My main motivation as a photographer with Virtuance is to share how I organize the world we live in through compelling images of architecture. Each property has a story to tell.
I tell young photographers that this craft is about providing an experience. Building trust will free up the creative side of your work allowing you to do what you love. It is a performance art, and when you’re at a property, you’re on stage. How something feels is more important than how it works. This is true whether you’re taking a photo of a property or purchasing it.
The key to my happiness is being able to specialize in what I love and do my best. The image only starts with me, but there is a whole team behind the final product. It has taken Virtuance years to dial in the image processing software that provides stunning images for real estate, and we’re still fine-tuning it on a daily basis to ensure a superior image. HDReal® allows me to focus deeply on capturing the perfect image while creating meaningful relationships with clients. I don’t have to worry about anything else.
I want to be a Julius Schulman of my time. Maybe four generations into the future, the photos I’ve taken will be used to show what it was like back in 2016.
TJ Romero has photographed more than 2000 properties for Virtuance, one of the fastest growing real estate photography companies in the world.